Racial Equity in Spokane Schools: January

Anti-Racist Resources, Parent & Family Engagement | 01/27/2021

Cyndi Parris
Parent Volunteer, Stand for Children Washington

Racial Equity in Spokane Schools

January 2021 Newsletter

Content warning (what is this?): the opening paragraphs of the email below contain references to racist violence. Please scroll down to start reading after the photo if you’d prefer to skip them.

My daughter doesn’t want to rock the boat at school. 

But when she came home one day and told me how disturbing and traumatizing it is when the only time she is taught about people who look like her is when it’s about them being lynched, tarred and feathered, or oppressed. On one occasion the teacher turned to her and asked her for her input on the lynching videos he was showing the class. The message she is left with after these lessons is that "her life as a black person doesn't matter and can be taken at any given moment by a white person for no reason." Nowhere in any of her classes has she been taught the difference black people have made in our country, the great things they have accomplished, built, and invented or the countless other ways they have positively impacted our society. This must change and is why I joined the racial equity conversations happening right now in Spokane Public Schools.

Being able to witness the world through my daughters’ eyes has been eye-opening to see how deeply systemic racism runs in our educational system. Being white, I’ve had an idea of it, but not the reality of the day-to-day things they experience. Before 2020, I felt isolated in my experience as their mother. I wanted to advocate for my daughters but also respect their wishes that I not “make a big deal” out of any specific incident that happened. I didn’t know if this was common or just a few isolated incidents.

As it turns out, these were not isolated incidents. After the protests for racial justice in reponse to the murder of George Floyd rocked our country last June, I was grateful that our school district hosted a listening session about racial equity for students of color to share their experiences, and my daughters joined. When I asked the event organizers at Stand for Children if a similar event was happening for family members, I learned that there wasn’t - yet - which brings me to today.

I am not an expert in bringing racial justice to our schools, but I am a parent of two beautiful women who I know deserve to feel seen, heard, and included while they live and learn. That’s why I joined Stand for Children as a volunteer and have been a co-host of the Parent Racial Equity Listening Sessions since last summer. I started doing this work for three reasons:

  1. I wanted to move beyond protesting and DO something to make a difference in Spokane. 

  2. I wanted to hold SPS accountable to their Racial Equity Resolution and change our curriculum to better serve ALL of Spokane Public Schools students.

  3. I wanted to create a safe space for parents/guardians to share the experiences their children were going through with district staff.

Last June, the Spokane School Board passed a resolution ‘to establish equity policies that guide budgetary processes, operations, and student programming.’ My fellow Spokane volunteers and I are starting this monthly newsletter in order to share updates with you on the implementation of policies to support racial equity in Spokane Public Schools. Our hope is that by creating more awareness of the process, we can support the school board in their implementation and broaden participation of community members in building a more just and equitable education system together. 

With that, here is some information about the current process and ways for you to get involved:

  • RESOLUTION: Spokane School District No. 81, Resolution No. 2020-11, ‘A Board Resolution to Establish Equity Policies’, passed on June 10, 2020
  • SCHEDULE: Spokane Public Schools Board Meetings occur virtually every other Wednesday at 7pm. You can view the whole schedule here
    • The next meeting is  Wednesday, January 27, 2021.
  • LATEST NEWS:
    • The Board is on the cusp of hiring an HR firm for the district that will have a focus on racial equity. They’ll be voting on their final decision very soon (possibly at the next meeting).
    • The Board shared an update on their Priority Goals for 2020-21 last month and you can view their slide deck presentation here.
  • GET INVOLVED:
    • Attend a Parent Listening Session for Racial Equity (Register here for the monthly meeting.)
    • Join the Stand for Children Spokane Racial Equity team as a volunteer (email dsoloria@stand.org for more details)

We are learning as we go, so if you have any suggestions for how this newsletter or our collective efforts could better reflect our community’s needs please respond to this email and let us know. Thank you for your support, and thank you for standing with us in this critically important work together.

Standing with you,

Cyndi

Parent Volunteer
Stand for Children Washington

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